UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State Beaver women's basketball team finished as the PSUAC Championship runners-up after falling to Penn State Lehigh Valley 61-44 at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday afternoon.
PSUAC Player of the Week freshman guard Alexis Cross (Columbiana) lead Beaver's scoring list with 13 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block followed by two-time PSUAC Player of the Week sophomore guard Diamond Thomas (Pittsburgh/Carlynton), who earned 11 points, three rebounds, one steal and two blocks in the game.
Freshman forward Jimya Chambers (Phoenix/Westview) also had a notable performance at the backboards, racking up 11 boards for the day.
1st quarter: The game began with Lehigh knocking down back-to-back jump shots to take a 4-0 lead over Beaver less than two minutes in. But Chambers picked up the defensive board 30 seconds later and got the ball to Thomas, who then fed it to freshman guard Emily Keener (Utica) to knock down a 3-pointer and make it a 1-point game at 4-3. But Lehigh Valley picked up the pace and made a 12-0 run to put Beaver in a 13-point hole at 3:11 (16-3). Then at 2:41, Beaver made a late 6-0 run of its own fostered by Thomas 3-point bucket to cut the score to 7 points (16-9).
2nd quarter: In the second, Beaver found itself in a double-digit deficit again after Lehigh Valley scored 4 unanswered points to start the quarter (20-9). Then at 6:18, Keener got the ball to Cross, who then drained a 3-point bucket to get the rival's lead down to 22-15. The teams tied each other on scoring in the third (13-13), and Beaver trailed by 7 points at halftime (29-22).
3rd quarter: The score remained close in the early part of the third, with Beaver staying within 9-7 points of tying up the score. At 5:39, Thomas hit back-to-back jumpers to get the Lady Lions within striking distance for a comeback and only down by 3 points (33-30). At 2:47, Beaver cut the score down even lower to only 2 points after Thomas drilled a late-quarter jumper from behind the arch (39-37), but Lehigh Valley answered back with a 2-point bucket of its own 23 seconds later to make it a two-score again at 41-27. While the Lady Lions outscored Lehigh Valley 17-14 in the third, they headed into the final quarter down by 4 (43-39).
4th quarter: While momentum had shifted Beaver's way in the third, the fourth took a drastic turn for the Lady Lions, who were pressured by Lehigh Valley's defense to miss critical scoring opportunities and couldn't get the stops they needed to slow. down the rivals' scoring. This allowed Lehigh Valley to make an 18-0 down to 2:32 minute-mark, which put Beaver down 61-39. While Beaver managed to hit a late 3-pointer and score two free-throws, time was not on the Lady Lions' side as they fell to Lehigh Valley by a final score of 61-44.
Box Score Highlights: Beaver outshot Lehigh Valley 70 percent to 45.5 percent from the free-throw line, hitting 7-10 from the charity stripe and shot 7.7 better from 3-point range. Beaver also racked up one more assist than Lehigh Valley (10-9).
After today's match, Beaver is now 22-5 overall for the season.
Despite the unfavorable outcome in the PSUAC Championship match, the Lady Lions' season isn't over yet after they earned the No. 5 seed and will compete in the USCAA National Championship. Beaver will face the No. 4 seeded Johnson and Wales Charlotte at the Penn State Fayette campus on Monday, March 4 at 12 p.m.